The Gloucester Rugby players named in England's Under 20 Elite Player squad learned yesterday that they will be taking on the host nation Argentina as well as France and Ireland in the pool stages of next summer's IRB Junior World Championship.
England, coached by Mark Mapletoft, have reached the tournament's two previous finals and go to South America in June 2009 looking to claim a first title global title.
They are based in Rosario for the three pool games, starting against the host nation on Saturday, June 5. They take on Ireland on June 9 and fifth seeds France on June 13. The fourth round and finals day are on June 17 and 21.
This year England beat Japan 43-0, Scotland 30-7, Samoa 52-7 and South Africa 40-21 in Tokyo before losing 44-28 to New Zealand in the JWC final.
"Playing the host nation Argentina in the opening game next summer will be a great occasion," said Mapletoft, who won his only England cap in Buenos Aires in 1997.
"We had that experience against Japan this year in Tokyo when the atmosphere was brilliant and the welcome we got made it extra special.
"Argentina are now a major nation on the world stage at senior level and that will filter down to their Under 20 side.
"The other games will be intriguing as we'll already have faced Ireland and France. By the end of the RBS Under 20 Six Nations in March we'll have a clear idea of our chances of progressing through the group stages in Argentina."
Next year's tournament is in a new 12-team format with the three pool winners and the best-ranked runner-up playing in the tournament semi finals on June 17 in Rosario, where the final and bronze medal matches will be staged on June 21.
England start their preparations for the campaign with two days at Twickenham this month and training camps in December and January before kicking off the Six Nations against Wales on February 5.
Mapletoft can call on 16 players capped at Under 20 level last season, including seven who took part in the JWC in Tokyo
IRB Junior World Championship pools
Pool A (Santa Fe, Parana): New Zealand, Wales, Samoa, Fiji
Pool B (Rosario): England, France, Ireland, Argentina
Pool C (Santa Fe, Parana): South Africa, Australia, Scotland, Tonga
England Under 20 Elite Player Squad
Joe Marler (Harlequins)**, Lee Imiolek (Sale Sharks), Jamie George (Saracens)**, Arthur Ellis (London Wasps)*, Shaun Knight (Gloucester Rugby)**, Mako Vunipola (Bristol Rugby), Kieran Brookes (Newcastle Falcons), Calum Green (Leicester Tigers), Danny Wright (Gloucester Rugby)*, James Gaskell (Sale Sharks)**, Peter Elder (London Wasps)*, Jamie Gibson (London Irish)*, Joe Trayfoot (Harlequins), Jacob Rowan (Leeds Carnegie)*, Will Welch (Newcastle Falcons), Alex Gray (Newcastle Falcons), Jackson Wray (Saracens)
Sam Harrison (Leicester Tigers)*, Jordi Pasqualin (Gloucester Rugby)*, Sam Stuart (Harlequins), Freddie Burns (Gloucester Rugby)*, Rory Clegg (Harlequins)**, Jake Sharp (Saracens), Tom Catterick (Newcastle Falcons), Tom Casson (Saracens)*, Jonny May (Gloucester Rugby), Sam Smith (Harlequins), Christian Wade (London Wasps), Marcus Watson (London Irish), Will Hurrell (Leicester Tigers)**, Tom Homer (London Irish)**, Jack Wallace (London Wasps)
**2009 Junior World Cup squad
*Capped in the 2009 RBS U20 Six Nations
Speaking to the local media this week, back row flanker Jacob Rowan said that he is excited for the challenge at the Ricoh Arena this Sunday, and added that the players know the responsibility is theirs to deliver against the league leaders.
Ben Morgan was on media duty this week, and as Gloucester prepare for Sunday's trip to Wasps, the number eight is looking forward to see Gloucester go toe-to-toe with another of the Aviva Premiership's front runners.
Tom Marshall scored his first Gloucester try in the 31-23 win over Saracens on Friday evening and was named Man of the Match. Talking to GRTV, he praised the forwards for setting the tone on the night.
Matt Scott was on media duty this week, and the Scottish international spoke about the benefit of having a full week of training with his club mates and the determination to get back to performing well against Saracens this Friday evening.
After the disappointment of last weekend's performance at Leicester, Director of Rugby David Humphreys told GRTV that he expects a big response from Gloucester in Friday's Aviva Premiership fixture at home to Saracens (kick off 7:45pm).
Gloucester battled bravely against Wasps on Sunday, but it was a case of taking chances at the Ricoh Arena. Gloucester didn't make the most of theirs while Wasps did, and that proved to be the difference.
Gloucester were competitive for long periods at the Ricoh Arena on Sunday afternoon, but were left to rue a host of missed scoring opportunities throughout as Wasps hit back to earn a 35-22 Aviva Premiership win.
Gloucester's Ciaran Knight made his first start at tighthead prop, Henry Walker made his first appearance as a second half replacement and Alex Seville also featured as England U20s might it three from three in the U20s Six Nations with a 46-0 win over Italy in Darlington on Friday night.